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Between Ostrom and Nordhaus: The research landscape of sustainability economics

Moritz Drupp (), Stefan Baumgärtner, Moritz Meyer, Martin Quaas and Henrik von Wehrden

Ecological Economics, 2020, vol. 172, issue C

Abstract: We survey the emerging research area of sustainability economics through a quantitative full-text analysis of peer-reviewed journal publications from 1987 to 2013. To identify relevant contributions, we draw on existing definitions of sustainability economics for a keyword-based identification strategy: a combined focus on (a) the human-nature relationship, (b) the long-term uncertain future, (c) normative orientation towards sustainability, and (d) economic analysis. Our analysis of a random subsample of 343 relevant papers reveals that (i) sustainability economics is a rapidly developing research area; (ii) while theoretical contributions shaped the area in earlier years, applied work now constitutes the largest share of contributions; (iii) the research landscape can be clustered into eleven research clusters. These range from participatory governance of social-ecological systems associated with the work of Elinor Ostrom to questions of intertemporal allocation and distribution applied to climate economics associated with the work of William Nordhaus; (iv) the research area is broad in scope and heterogeneous, and there is relatively little interaction between important clusters; (v) relevant contributions are published in more than 100 journals. Ten journals publish half of all contributions, led by Ecological Economics, and 40% appear in non-economics journals, underscoring the importance of interdisciplinary dialogue.

Keywords: Sustainability; Economics; Human–nature relationship; Uncertainty; Future; Justice; Literature; Bibliographic analysis; Vocabulary (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: A12 A14 B40 Q01 D63 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2020.106620

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